In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

One of the first abstract painters in Maine

One of the first abstract painters in Maine

A story by William Manning from 1950-2018

William Manning talked about growing up in Lewiston, and the influence of fellow Lewiston native Marsden Hartley on his artwork. Manning described how he became an abstract painter, and his work as a teacher and mentor at the Portland School of Art and Concept. Recorded September, 2017.

I was born in Lewiston, Maine and have lived in Maine all my life. As a child, I had polio, and spent about two years in the hospital. I drew and made art to keep myself busy, and this is where I started my art career.

I attended the Portland School of Art (now Maine College of Art) where I started painting in 1954. I later taught there for 10 years. I was fired in 1967 for what was considered a radical philosophy in teaching and painting. In 1968 I was co-founder of Concept, a School of Visual Studies, in Portland. The school lasted for five years, and many of the students I taught became recognized artists in New York and elsewhere.

I was the first Maine native to paint abstract work (Marsden Hartley did a few abstract paintings around 1917), also the first Maine-born artist to receive a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a MacDowell Fellowship. I live and work in Falmouth.

Below are examples of my paintings.